Is Art School Worth the Money? Is Design School Worth the Money?

Is Art School Worth the Money? Is Design School Worth the Money?

Dan Clowes wrote in his famous four page comic, Art School Confidential:
“Remember, the only piece of paper less valuable than one of your paintings is a B.F.A. degree.”

Nice. But, I disagree.

Getting solid professional training can really rocket you to being a rockstar in an art career.
It worked for me. I spent four years getting my BFA ( Bachelor of Fine Arts ) and then spent money, for way more than four years paying it off. But that education paid off for me.
And it still is. I have an amazing career that keeps me creative and never bores me.
On the other hand I have a few friends and colleagues ( note the word “few”) that have done well without the diploma. I remember a great article by Daniel Grant debating a bit of this age old question in the Wall Street Journal just last year. Yes, folks-The Wall Street Journal. Art is a business and teaching art is also a business.

Grant brought up some great points regarding a traditional non-profit art education, like you’d find at my Alma Mater, Moore College of Art and Design, or Savannah College of Art & Design, Rhode Island School of Design, Art Institute of Chicago, etc.) versus enrolling at for-profit art schools, like New York’s School of Visual Arts, Academy of Art University in San Francisco,
Full Sail, or the Art Institute of Whatever City You’re In. Or near.

So does size matter? Stop snickering. I’m talking about school size. The article stated that “The largest art school in the country, the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, is a for-profit, too; its enrollment of more than 17,000 students is more than double that of the largest nonprofit art college (Savannah College of Art & Design, 8,200 total students)—dwarfing those of such prestigious nonprofits as the Rhode Island School of Design, 2,400 students; California Institute of the Arts, 1,460; School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 3,100; and Maryland Institute College of Art, 1,930.”

You might choose a state university arts program. Or your parents may choose for you if they’re they’re signing the check. Some folks benefit from the energy of a large class, while others absorb information and better hone their skills with more personal attention in a smaller classroom. And some people aren’t sure what they want.

And that’s okay too. It’s tough to know what the heck to invest in for the next coupla years when you’re seventeen or eighteen years old. Lotsa folks may choose to wait a little and save a little. Can you afford it? Are there scholarships available? $20-30 grand a year is a lot of money. $20-30 grand PLUS INTEREST is even more mulah. Degrees do cost money. But they can also earn you buckets of money

The hard truth is that it’s more about the student than the school. There are all sorts of statistics. But human beings aren’t statistics. Especially creative human beings. In my opinion, art school is a great choice to learn foundation skills and design elementals and to learn and grow with a group of like-minded peers. But the best guarantee to getting by in school and in life is all about a person’s attitude and talent. The world is full of talented people. It’s up to you to “make it”.

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